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People complain that Los Angeles doesn't have any seasons.

Except that it does: the "rainy" season, and fire season.

The former is a misnomer at best; most years it rains - I mean really rains - at most 15 days out of the year.

Moreover, these days are almost all crammed within the three months of December, January, and February. Rain in November or April is surprising, and in October or May, truly shocking.

In most climates, the color of summer is green. Hence Paul Simon sang of the "greens of summer" in "Kodachrome."

In Los Angeles the color of summer is yellowish brown. From June to September not a drop of rain falls and grasses on the hills dry out to husks, the chaparral on the high, sea-facing mountains dessicates to tinder, and the natural world waits with baited, breezy breath, not for rain, but for life-giving fire.

Many plants in the chaparral ecosystem literally cannot reproduce without fire.

In the fall the Santa Ana Winds arrive, blowing intensely hot, dry air in from the Mojave Desert, further drying out the plants and turning them into the ultimate tinderbox.

The winds also help fuel and spread the fires; all they need is a spark.

Fire season technically runs from June through November, but the height of fire season is in October and early November, just before the first rains arrive, when the plants on the hills and mountains are at their absolute driest.

The massive wildfires that eventuate, and the resultant threat to the tract homes that are foolishly built deeper and deeper into the chaparral every year, are breathlessly reported each fall by the national media as if they are some sort of surprise. Nobody in Los Angeles is surprised. After all, it's fire season.

If you live in Los Angeles long enough, you eventually become habituated to the rhythms of fire season. You learn the difference between a fire that is "contained" and a fire that has been "controlled" as well as the difference between "partial" and "full" control. You get used to the constant whump-whump-whump of the fire-fighting helicopters overhead in the late-fall months, and even the occasional showers of ash. If you live close to mountains, you may even get showered with enough ash to fully cover your lawn with a thin patina of whitish gray "snow" from time to time.

When I was growing up, Los Angeles was a watchword for urban sprawl and by pressing up into the mountains, even building houses on stilts where necessary, it pioneered the very idea of fire season. But nowadays urban sprawl has spread to cities across the western United States, and fire season is becoming a thing in places like San Diego, Utah, Arizona, Montana, and Colorado.

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